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Loneliness gets its own legislation

Nov 21, 2023
Illustration of two hands reaching out for each other.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is taking a first stab at building a uniform set of research standards to measure loneliness and isolation.

Driving the news: The effort builds on growing recognition that social isolation is a behavioral health concern after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared loneliness a public health crisis earlier this year.

Details: The "Improving Measurements for Loneliness and Isolation" Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services to create a working group that will provide recommendations for how to standardize defining and measuring loneliness and isolation.

  • It's sponsored by Reps. Mike Flood and David Trone, with the Senate version carried by Pete Ricketts.
  • In July, Sen. Chris Murphy also introduced a bill that would create a new Office of Social Connection Policy within the White House and help develop a national strategy for combating loneliness.

Murthy earlier this year laid out a roadmap for improving social connection, citing the physical health consequences of loneliness and isolation such as increased risk of heart disease and stroke and dementia in older adults.

  • "Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health," he said.
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